Last week’s decision by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to deliver a 5.2 per cent wage increase for Australia’s lowest paid people represents a huge union win for workers.
As the cost-of-living crisis continues to intensify, workers are buckling under the pressure to make ends meet.
The FWC decision helps to address that issue, but it still falls short of what workers deserve and need.
On the Job spoke with a number of union leaders about what the Fair Work Commission decision means for their members – and what needs to happen now.
Annie Butler – Federal Secretary, Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation
“It was great news that the FWC recognised the desperate need to increase wages for so many workers around the country who’ve been responsible for making sure we survive throughout the pandemic”.
It will give those workers a boost to keep up with the increasing cost-of-living and rising inflation but there is still work to do. These are still some of our most poorly paid workers.
Federal Secretary, Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation
“We’re going to have to be really mindful in making sure that employers don’t seek to then try and cut costs elsewhere because they’ve got to cover this (wage increase).”
Jenny Kruschel – Textile, Clothing, Footwear National Secretary, Manufacturing Division, CFMEU
“Our members are happy about the increase, but they’re still really concerned about the cost of living.”
“It’s especially hard for regional members who are impacted by the cost of fuel, some of them drive up to an hour each day to get to work, and then an hour to go home.”
“There are no extras for many of our members. They’re living week to week.”
“Workers have to have secure jobs. And I think there’s still a long way to go if we’re really going to make a difference for workers.”
Lloyd Williams – National Secretary, Health Services Union
“For health care workers, aged care workers and disability support workers who are Award reliant it means the difference between them putting food on the table and being able to pay their rent and pay their mortgage. It will make a huge difference.”
For too long in this country, wages for Award reliant workers have just been kept low as a part of the economic model of the former federal government. We’ve finally broken that mould.
National Secretary, Health Services Union
“For too long in this country, wages for Award reliant workers have just been kept low as a part of the economic model of the former federal government. We’ve finally broken that mould.”
“Many workers have been traumatised by their pandemic experiences. Finally, there is now hope for them that they’ve been recognised for the contribution that they’ve made to this country.”
Michael Kaine – National Secretary, Transport Workers Union
“Increases to minimum rates are a good first step, but they aren’t a silver bullet. There are structural problems in aviation which accumulate power in the hands of airport corporations and airlines against workers’ and passengers’ interests.”
“Those at the top hoard profits when times are good, yet target quality, secure jobs and come cap-in-hand to taxpayers for billions when things go wrong. The result is an industry shamefully focused on rank profiteering and bloated executive bonuses.”
“Workers and passengers are being left behind. Skilled workers are leaving the industry in droves because working and safety conditions have never been lower. Workers are stressed out, fatigued and over-worked because corporate dictators in Qantas management have run conditions into the ground.”
Carolyn Smith – Director of Aged Care, United Workers Union
“For those workers who are currently on the Award, this pay rises is really welcome. I think it’s probably important to be aware that it will only just have them treading water.”
“I think the Albanese Government’s support for a pay rise does make a difference. It is the symbolic value that my government actually sees the struggles that I have.”
“Workers are physically and emotionally exhausted, just from the guilt they carry – and it’s not their fault – that they’re not looking after residents properly.
“And there are still many workers who don’t get enough hours a week to make a living or have to work for extra providers to to get enough work. So, fixing wages, fixing staffing, and building real jobs that you can live on. That that’s what we need to do to fix the crisis.”